It’s been much too long since I’ve posted a blog entry of this incredible expedition; however, it is with good reason
, as the team
has been through an amazing series of challenges. From Roma, we left Rick’s
house and took off from town with several onlookers cheering us along. Our
destination of choice is Dubbo; however, landing in the town of Miles, we’re
forced to concede to the massive storm system to our front. There are big nasty
clouds all around us from the north down to the south east, a wall of rain and
wind blocking our path. In Miles, we have to make the decision to change course
once again, pushing south to work a crosswind rather than a full headwind. It
cuts a large amount of distance off our route south, but it keeps us going.
Glenn makes a late landing in the village called The Gums. There is nothing here other than a couple derelict shacks and a rundown Road House sitting on the junction of two roads. The locals are not as hospitable as others we’ve had the pleasure of running into, and we set up in the truckers parking behind the Road House. It’s not a particularly pleasant sleep with trucks coming and going all night long, their generators starting up and shutting off. It’s another night with little sleep, but we’re back on the road, Glenn lifting off early in a bid to get down to Goondiwindi but sets down 3km short of the town on Moonie. We spend the day at the Road House here, the heat outside keeping me in the shelter of the air conditioned bar, buying overpriced coffee to keep my seat. We’re in wild pig territory here and the wall of the Road House is decorated with the heads of several different species of wild Boar. It seems that every truck that goes by is a pig or Roo hunter’s truck, the padded bars on the windows and rifles under the windshield giving away the drivers profession.
The winds just aren’t calming down today though. We move out to the Cricket pitch to make a lunch and waste away another couple hours, but as the sun begins to sink; the possibility of an evening flight is lost. We look around for a spot to camp as the cricket pitch parking lot has several no camping signs up. Instead we pull behind the bushes on the driveway to a farmer’s paddock. There are “No Trespassing” signs everywhere, but we set up camp for the night hoping no one witnessed us sneak in. We should be gone before the farmer comes to work tomorrow morning, hopefully.
The next morning brings with it kinder winds. Glenn is able to get up and heads straight west towards St. George. Again, he’s forced to set down short of the goal, about 60km out of town. We are forced to set up camp on a derelict side road as storm clouds finally catch up to us. We knew that at some time the run would be stopped with the coming weather, it just sucks that we are stuck out in the middle of nowhere. The storm hits us that night, Craig and I are in the camper while Glenn and Mark are out in tents. The amateur stitching job that I did to the canvass roof over my bed gets its first real test as torrents of rain fall on us all night long. The rain is relentless and my stitching fails big time. At first a small drip of water drips onto the mattress beside my head. I grab a towel and place it under it. The roof above is starting to pool water though and shortly a wet area in the middle starts to open up another leak from saturation. I place another towel in the middle of the bed and shift my body into a crescent shape in a vain effort to keep dry.
However, the rain is relentless, the saturated spot in the middle of the canvas is now dripping in four different places at a much greater rate, and the stitched rip is now a full pouring waterfall onto my bed. It’s a good thing it’s still quite warm out as my bed gets wetter and wetter. I soon give up the fight to keep the water from entering and just try to get some degree of sleep in the bathtub. The sleeping bag is soaked, the mattress nothing more than a giant sponge keeping as much water under me as possible. Sleep is futile and all I can do is wait for the light of day to come so that I can get out of the pool that is my bed.
Finally the sun rises and the others begin to wake. I did not sleep a wink all night, emerging from my sleeping bag dripping as though I just got out of a pool. Mercifully, the sun has broken through some of the rain clouds and I can pull all my sleeping attire out to dry. I wring rivers of water out of the shirt and boxers I was wearing. The sleeping bag and mattress are also heavily laden with water and I wring as much out as I can and lay them out in the sun to dry.
The winds are still high and rain squalls rotate through every hour it seems. There is no chance for Glenn to get back up in the air and we’re forced to spend the day on the ground, deteriorating from boredom. Walks down the old road and highway get boring quickly, and watching all the ants come and go from their little holes in the red clay ground also gets old soon. Craig spots a white snake making its way across the highway and we go up to investigate. It turns out not to be a snake but a row of several caterpillars all linked up for the daunting crossing of the highway, out in the open for predators to sweep in. I guess there is safety in numbers and by being all linked up, they do look like a snake from a distance, scaring away some rodents possibly. I run back to camp to grab a camera and tell Mark and Glenn. We are all so bored that the sight of some caterpillars crossing the road turns out to be the most exciting part of the day.